|On a Pen|
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  24 Nov 2007
In youth exalted high in air,
Or bathing in the waters fair,
Nature to form me took delight,
And clad my body all in white.
My person tall, and slender waist,
On either side with fringes graced;
Till me that tyrant man espied,
And dragg'd me from my mother's side:
No wonder now I look so thin;
The tyrant stript me to the skin:
My skin he flay'd, my hair he cropt:
At head and foot my body lopt:
And then, with heart more hard than stone,
He pick'd my marrow from the bone.
To vex me more, he took a freak
To slit my tongue and make me speak:
But, that which wonderful appears,
I speak to eyes, and not to ears.
He oft employs me in disguise,
And makes me tell a thousand lies:
To me he chiefly gives in trust
To please his malice or his lust.
From me no secret he can hide;
I see his vanity and pride:
And my delight is to expose
His follies to his greatest foes.
All languages I can command,
Yet not a word I understand.
Without my aid, the best divine
In learning would not know a line:
The lawyer must forget his pleading;
The scholar could not show his reading.
Nay; man my master is my slave;
I give command to kill or save,
Can grant ten thousand pounds a-year,
And make a beggar's brat a peer.
But, while I thus my life relate,
I only hasten on my fate.
My tongue is black, my mouth is furr'd,
I hardly now can force a word.
I die unpitied and forgot,
And on some dunghill left to rot.
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